The Long Hot Summer

Where does the time go? Wasn’t it only a few weeks ago when we were celebrating the end of the school year? Didn’t we picnic on the 4th?

Then June rolled around, and we attended CAMP TBI (sponsored by the Brain Injury Association of Florida) where we met and mingled with survivors and caregivers. It is one of the few times we do not have to encourage David to take part in activities. The twist this year is that he had a buddy. It was their job to make sure one or the other followed the schedule of events.

The caregivers went to breakout sessions while the survivors were busy. I always come away with information when we attend these events. We met a fellow caregiver who talked about an aspect of traumatic brain injury that I had touched upon in my book, RAISING DAVID AGAIN, but he said that there is a test our neurologist can administer to David that can determine whether he can taste. I hadn’t heard of this, and we talked at length about how this might benefit my son.

During the day-long camp, the caregiver’s could sign up for a massage, manicure, or pedicure. There was also a room set up as a quiet area where books could be taken for the day, or forever—the choice was ours. It was during a quiet time when I met the Director of BIAF, a personable and outgoing young woman named Djenaba Burnes, who invited me to be on a panel at the July CAMP TBI. She and her staff made each of us feel special.

It takes a great deal of effort, preparation, and willing people to put one of these events on, and I can’t imagine the logistics of doing it in multiple cities over several months, but those who attended will tell you how grateful we are that this non-profit organization exists.

So, the takeaway from the weekend is to – take care of the caregiver. Take time for yourself. Pamper yourself if you are able and try to destress on doing a little reading, writing, playing the piano, gardening, paint something, or listen to soothing music.

ON GETTING OLD AND DEJA VU

Fourteen years ago, my husband, his brother, and I began the process of cleaning out their childhood home. My father-in-law had passed in ’95, and my mother-in-law was alone in the house when the dog she rescued decided to play tag, and she tripped over the chain, breaking her foot. After surgery, she was taken to a nursing home to recover.

The house across the street had been purchased by a home-flipper, and after he visited us, we began to steer my mother-in-law into allowing this man to buy the home. She had thought that it was time to get out of the neighborhood and into an apartment, so we began the laborious process of doing just that.

Since she was unable to leave, I went back and forth between the old house and the nursing home, carefully following the lists of items that she wanted to keep and what we could give away.

If you think it’s easy to go through someone’s life possessions, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. She vacillated over whether she should sell the house (after agreeing to it) but being on the bottom floor with no stairs to contend with finally won her over.

Once the house sold, we began to empty the house of childhood memories stacked in the basement that was so old and mildewed that we had to wear masks. We dumped the stuff in the container that the man across the street said we could use, and we filled up at least half of it.

When everything was cleaned, and in place, I went to the nursing home to take my mother-in-law to her shiny new apartment. Everything she had on her lists we carefully displayed in the Cherrywood glass hutch, secretary, and TV cabinet. Her first-floor apartment had two bedrooms, two baths, a walk-in closet, a galley kitchen, and a stackable washer and dryer. She could see her car from the living room slider doors.

In October of 2017, at the age of 97, my mother-in-law stood up, and her leg broke, thus necessitating an ambulance ride to the hospital, with a subsequent stay at the same nursing home she had been to 14 years ago. She was not happy to be there and doubly unhappy that it would be her home from now on. After urging her to let go (another Déjà vu moment came back to us) to allow her grandchildren to take the dishes and stemware, and whatever they could use; the items we had once so carefully placed into her hutch, etc. What need would she have of this stuff now?

My brother-in-law, who had taken such good care of her over the years, had made several lists for her to approve, and after she carefully checked them, she said to proceed. She then instructed him to go through all the pictures and separate them into family piles, box them up, and then send them to the families.

Because we live in a different state, we traveled to Ohio to tackle what remained, disassembling and removing the furniture, and boxing up items to distribute to my children, going through a lifetime of memories and it felt like Déjà vu, again.

Naturally, my mother-in-law was concerned about her things.

When I got to her room, she was ruminating about where each piece had gone. She wanted to keep her clothes. What about her jewelry? Where was the Fenton glass that was on top of the hutch? It was a tough week navigating between the questions and the answers I knew she didn’t want to hear.

She got a little snarky with me, but when we went to say goodbye, she asked me to forgive her. We had taken all that she knew to be her life away and doomed her to live in the nursing home for the rest of her days.

Was she ready to let go? No, she was not. But then, how does one live to be 97 years old? That is the real mystery!

Brain Injury – the secret to keeping calm so you can carry on!

Brain injury is so unique that it can go undetected until something happens, then it can manifest itself. Take for instance what occurs between a slight hit to the head vs. actual head trauma. You might not think that a baseball smacking into someone’s skull would cause trauma, a two-by-four smack to the forehead would cause damage, or falling over something and hitting your head on the ground could cause worry, but since everyone’s brain is different, you might find that the brain – even slightly jarred within the cranium could cause some type of damage. If enough slamming goes on – as it does with contact sports, it could build over time and the results might be devastating.

I’m no medical expert, but I live with a person with brain injury. Over the last ten years, we’ve had the privilege of knowing many TBI, ABI, stroke, and concussion victims. They would all agree that their lives are different now, that if they knew then what they know now, they would have at least tried to avoid what gave them their brain injury. But, as much as we would like to, there is no rewinding of time. We can, become more aware of what constitutes a brain injury, and this will help us to avoid it.

If you know anyone who needs to understand brain injury, please recommend my book, RAISING DAVID AGAIN. It is written for caregivers by a caregiver. In it are the complete 10 Keys to Recovery and the BRAIN INJURY TOOL KIT. It could change the way you care for brain injury survivors. They are unique, just as there are no two snowflakes that fall in winter, there are no two brain injuries that are alike. It can be purchased wherever books are sold, Amazon.com, and my website: www.maappleby.com

Do a Book Review!

Consider doing a book review for the books you read. It doesn’t have to be laborious, but a few sentences about what you liked about a book goes a long way in helping an author know they’ve hit the target with their audience!

It doesn’t matter how you procured the book. It could be a hardcover, paperback, or in an e-book form. It also doesn’t matter whether it came from the library, given to you as a gift, bought from a book store, or was purchased on-line.

What does matter are readers. A reader is important to an author because they help give that author valuable information which spurs them on to write more and more exciting things for you – the reader!

If you would like to review any of my four books and you don’t want to do this yourself, just send it to me and I will be happy to post it for you. E-mail to: info@maappleby.com 

To leave an Amazon review: Go to www.Amazon.com

  1. After it opens, type in the name of the book in the search bar
  2. Click on the book cover
  3. Scroll down to Customer Reviews
  4. Click the box: Write a customer review
  5. copy your review and post it onto your social media page

To leave a Barns and Noble review: Go to www.barnsandnoble.com

  1. After it opens, type in the name of the book in the search bar
  2. Click on the book cover
  3. Scroll down to Customer Reviews
  4. Click the green box to write your review
  5. copy your review and post it onto your social media page!

If you are an avid reader and you want some variety and spice in your life, become a GoodReads Member! Go to goodreads.com

  1. Go to Search and browse Authors and Books, to see what others are reading and writing – (this site has a multitude of genres and subjects – so buckle up and get comfortable!)
  2. Once you are a member, you can list your favorite books, make recommendations, join groups, as well as review books.
  3. Enter a Book Giveaway – for a chance to ‘win’ a free book! Selected from random by GoodReads, the author sends you a free copy, no strings attached. There are many books that are being given away…enter as many as you want.

If you want to review my books in GoodReads; type in M. A. Appleby in the search section

  • click on the book you wish to review
  • Note: my books are: The Ancient Whisper, Whispered Dreams, Journey of a Thousand Steps, and RAISING DAVID AGAIN

Thanks for taking the time to do this…and HAPPY READING!   M.A. Appleby

Living with Brain Injury…a funny story to make you smile!

Many interesting things happened on our trip north in November that I feel should be shared with the special needs community – or anyone wanting to know what it’s like to live with someone with a brain injury.

We rented a little cottage in Chardon, Ohio as most of our activities would take place in a 35-mile radius, and it’s where I went to high school. My husband took David on a walk around the neighborhood which took them near the shopping plaza where my Mother had once owned a Beauty Shop, called Evelyn, Hairdresser. Unfortunately, the old arcade where her shop was located has long since been bricked up, and in its place is a Marc’s department store.

They stopped into this store to look around and then walked home. Several days later, while I was out visiting with some good friends, David took himself for a walk, as he often does at home. We usually know where he is as we have Life 360 on our cell phones and Big Dave always knew where he was.

I came home to a beaming David. He had purchased a carton of ice cream! Things such as this could make a parent of a special needs person panic, however, when David goes for a walk, it allows him to feel more in control of his life. It makes him feel even more so, when he can buy something he wants.

Even at home, David makes us coffee each night before he goes to bed, setting the timer to go off in the morning. The coffee pot we had at the cottage did not have a timer, so he got up each morning to press the ON button. Because I was going to cook some of our meals, I had brought three shaker-type containers; garlic salt, garlic and herb, and one marked CREAMER.

One morning, David presented me with a cup of coffee. I usually pour my own, but he had done this apparently an hour earlier. When I looked into the cup, it looked a bit strange as things were floating in it. I thanked him and took a swig. When he left the room, I poured it down the drain and got another cup.

The next morning, he did the same thing. When I asked him what he had put into the cup, he walked over to the three shakers and pointed to the garlic and herb. I thanked him and he left the kitchen. Again, I poured it out and got a fresh cup, then proceeded to put all the shakers away, with the exception of the powered CREAMER. Problem solved.

Special people such as David do not need to be scolded. David would have been hurt and most probably stomped off as he was only trying to do something nice for me. We caregivers don’t always know what to do in situations such as this. My advice is to smile, say thank you, and deal with it as nicely as you can.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

We are Grateful!

We are grateful for so many things this year. November 1st took us on a tour of Ohio via Atlanta. A few funny things happened along the way. We had rented a little cottage in Chardon, Ohio for a week and as usual, David rose early to make us coffee. Instead of leaving the coffee in the pot, he poured me a cup and added something to it. I had taken some spices along with a container marked CREAMER, however, it took me a while to realize that he had ‘spiced up’ my coffee — not with the creamer, but with the spices.

Not wanting him to feel bad that he had done something nice for me, I simple asked him to use the container marked CREAMER, then removed the spices. If you live with a person with BRAIN INJURY, if you take them out of their environment (as we did to David) they adapt to where they are. In this case, you can’t fault him for trying to be helpful, but I don’t like cold coffee. When he turned his back, I emptied the cup and got a fresh one.

Another amusing story is that when you live with a person with BRAIN INJURY, they may take it upon themselves to do a little exploring if they get it in their head that it’s okay. David and his Dad had gone for a walk around the quaint town and stopped at the shopping plaza to see what was available, because he’s always on the lookout for DVDs of movies he likes.

One morning, I had gone with a friend and returned to see a grinning David. He opened the freezer to show me the container of ice-cream he had purchased. He had taken himself for a walk and came back with his treat. His Dad knew where he was all along, as we have a GPS tracking on him.

We implemented several of our 10 Keys we were gone, they are the ones we use to cope with Brain Injury. We have been blessed in so many ways, I just wanted to share our gratitude for all of our friends and family this Thanksgiving Season! Please know that each and every one of you are special to us. God Bless you all!

Brain Injury Advocate

RAISING DAVID AGAIN, A Guide to Understanding the Uniqueness of Brain Injury and How Our Faith Sustains Us is now available wherever books are sold, however, if you go to my website, (www.maappleby.com) you can receive not only a signed copy, but a FREE booklet called, Brain Injury Tool Kit. (a pocket guide of resources)

RAISING DAVID AGAIN is my perspective as a Mother and Caregiver to David as it pertains to living with someone who has a brain injury. Included in this book are several amazing stories about how other individuals survived the process of recovery. Toward the back of the book, you will find an in-depth version of my 10 Keys to Recovery that we use every day. Also included is a section called BRAIN INJURY TOOL KIT. This contains key words, definitions, how to do forms, etc., as well as where to find resources to help you on your journey of recovery.

I welcome comments and reviews of this book. May your journey be a swift one!

RAISING DAVID AGAIN

It’s been several months since there has been a post from us, but we were working diligently to get some things in place. RAISING DAVID AGAIN, my book about our family’s experience received a gold and a silver medal from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association.

We are now working diligently on getting the 10 Keys to Recovery into a booklet form for those who have asked for a condensed version of how we cope with Traumatic Brain Injury every day. Please be patient as we get this done. Blessings to all those to have taken this journey with us, or who are just embarking on one.

Go to www.maappleby.com for more information on how to order this informative book.

10 Keys to Recovery: For the Brain Injury Survivor and Their Caregiver:

KEY TO RECOVERY NO. 7 – Part One: Use humor whenever possible.

Humor is very important when you live with someone with a brain injury. You’ve heard of people laughing themselves well after watching Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges? David watched Disney and Seinfeld, Cheers, and those sit-coms that made him belly-laugh.

Humor can be found virtually anywhere! When I found the mayonnaise under the bathroom sink or the toilet paper on the workbench out in the garage, it naturally made me laugh.

A good friend gave us a red clown nose many years ago, way before ‘red nose day’ became a tradition. When David became cranky, I used this as a way to distract him away from whatever was making him frustrated or angry. When I put the nose on, it made David laugh. The red nose defuses whatever caused his trouble. I carry one in my purse – just for emergencies!

As parents we try to discipline our children when they behave badly, and reward them when they behave well, however, after someone suffers a brain injury, the playing field changes and bad behavior may have to be addressed.

KEY TO RECOVERY NO. 7 – Part Two: Mind your Ps and Q’s.

You all know this as: mind your manners, mind your language, and be on your best behavior when you are out in public. These are the things that parents teach their children so they aren’t embarrassed when taken out to dinner; known as social graces.

This goes along with the filters that may have been damaged during the brain injury. Those filters are important when you are with other people, however, they may need to be re-taught after brain injury. This takes both patients and humor to achieve!

 

10 Keys to Recovery: For the Brain Injury Survivor and Their Caregiver:

KEY TO RECOVERY NO. 6: Have Patience with yourself and others.

Brain injury can be as mild as a concussion, or as severe as not being able to walk or talk. Brain injury comes in all shapes and sizes, there may be different deficits such as Apraxia (a severe speech disorder that is characterized by the inability to speak) or Expressive Aphasia (a partial or total loss of the ability to communicate verbally), which is what affects David. Most people, upon meeting him for the first time, have no idea there is anything amiss, until they start to ask questions and he cannot assimilate and respond quickly.

This lag-time is very much what happens when we put our windshield wipers on delay. If given time, he can answer questions, but the delay is several seconds. From David’s perspective, he is saying the words correctly, but they don’t always come out of his mouth the way he intends. If you don’t have patience and want to speed things along, it can become an eternity waiting for a response.

We have learned how to adjust to David’s brain injury by asking YES or NO questions or giving him a choice of A or B, so that he doesn’t have to struggle. An example of that is; I don’t ask David what he wants for lunch, I say that it’s time for lunch and he can either find something to eat or choose from plates already made up on the counter. If he’s hungry and I’m not home, he makes his own lunch. I also don’t ask him where he wants to go, rather, he has a choice of activities such as shopping, library, movie, out to eat or stay in, that way, the frustration level stays low.

The following lists are from the website called brainline.org, (their tagline is: preventing, treating, and living with traumatic brain injury). Here are some things a person with a brain injury would like you to know:

  • Take your time when speaking to me – slow down- I need time to formulate what I want to say
  • I know I am different than I used to be – please don’t keep pointing it out
  • Don’t talk down to me – I’m not stupid
  • Do not shout at me – I can hear you just fine
  • Help me learn by example – show me what to do
  • Challenge me – but do not overwhelm me
  • Keep the volume and the lights down –I am more sensitive to loud noise and distraction, strobing and flashing light
  • Be patient with me – I’m not as quick as I used to be
  • Don’t give up on me – I wouldn’t give up on you